I'm Adibah, and I'm a Justin Bieber fan. Though this confession format might sound startlingly similar to that of an alcoholic's or a sex addict's, it isn't revealed in a safe space. On the contrary, I've been scoffed at and given one too many side eyes at the very mention of Bieber. Yes, after touring for nearly two years straight to promote his album, Purpose, the 23-year-old returns to Singapore after visiting us back in 2011. When I announced to a WhatsApp group chat that the 'Where Are You Now' singer is coming in October, one of my friends instantly replied, "NO". Caps lock for effect.
Sure, Bieber makes it easy for us to hate him. His music video for 'Baby', released in 2010, remains YouTube's most disliked video. In his own concert in Stockholm, he forgot the lyrics to 'Despacito' — that one song you couldn't escape even if your life depended on it — and sang about Doritos instead. Forbes has placed him among the top 10 most powerful celebrities in the world, thrice. 'Despacito' — as ill-fated and culturally offensive as it appears — became the first primarily Spanish song to top the Billboard Hot 100 since 'Macarena'in 1996. In June, he beat the Beatles' record for having two Top 3 Billboard songs for the most consecutive weeks, at 13. Like any successful pop star of his generation, this man is highly influential.
I can't help it if Bieber's 'What Do You Mean' gets me as pumped as Morrissey's 'The World Is Full of Crashing Bores'And I, 29 years young, happen to be just one of those suckers. I must admit I was a late convert. I didn't feel moved when 'Baby'came out, and often looked upon him in distaste, feeling like a cradle snatcher if I harboured a less-than-innocent thought. Then one day, like a shot to the heart, I found myself humming along to his 2012 tune, 'Beauty and a Beat'. I was so charmed that, when I previously applied for a position as a beauty writer at a women's magazine, I wrote that song title as my subject line. It's beauty, and it's a beat — obviously Bieber's song was wholly created for that very moment in my life.
Since pre-sale tickets for Bieber's concert opened a few days ago, social media feeds have run rampant with updates on the incredulity of such an occasion. Among the Nasi Lemak burger and Game Of Thrones updates, Bieber's concert tickets called for attention, with a user even commenting that he might cancel his credit card subscription after the company merely suggested a purchase of the pre-sale tickets. A colleague lamented on how she couldn't believe the same person who went to a Morrissey gig last year would even consider going for a Bieber concert.
Well, I can't help it if Bieber's 'What Do You Mean' gets me as pumped as Morrissey's 'The World Is Full of Crashing Bores'. I connect with the earlier's attempt to bring to light a communication breakdown between two lovers as much as the latter's plea on a lack of understanding between two entities. Like most creatives, we know that good music — as with good writing — comes from a place of pain, in which 'Where Are Ü Now' excels at. While it's been given the infectious dance treatment by Skrillex and Diplo, an earlier recording in 2009 placed Bieber in a stripped down piano-led version, his voice straining against the weight of his own words. "Justin wrote this record during a tough time in his life and it comes to us that sometimes, as artists, we are also just objects and we have to take that as much as we have to use that to create," said the producers of the Grammy Award-winning track.
The sound of Bieber singing probably dries up your vagina, as does the American accent to me on most occasions. But it's 2017, and things change. Music changes.In fact, if anything, Bieber has gone through an entire campaign that's out to "humanise" him again. His multiple appearances on James Corden's Carpool Karaoke revealed a more intimate side, and the Comedy Central roast on his 21st birthday showed that he isn't afraid to laugh at himself — qualities even celebrated rock gods won't show.
I get it if you don't like Bieber. I also get it if you don't like popular music, or if you think music doesn't sound like it used to. The sound of Bieber singing probably dries up your vagina, as does the American accent to me on most occasions. But it's 2017, and things change. Music changes. It was cool in your teens to wear a Threadless tee that said "I listen to bands that don't even exist yet", but as an adult, it's pretty immature to look down on other people's tastes in music. Is variety not the spice of life? At the recent Open'er music festival in Poland, I slipped into my basic bitch self when Charli XCX sang 'I Love It', just as how I allowed myself to be taken to the next level when Michael Kiwanuka crooned out 'Cold Little Heart' — all these feels, all on the same day.
I'm looking forward to the Bieber concert; waiting for him to sing my troubles away. But apart from possibly throwing my panties (he's totally legal now) on stage, I'm also excited to see who else shows up in a stereotype-breaking exercise. And may the reluctant dads, boyfriends, and partners go through the evening with an open mind and a receptive pair of ears. Who knows, they might even go home with a T-shirt, and a medal. I certainly deserve one after this publicised confession.